Michael Strahan will not continue to co-host Live with Kelly and Michael until September, as originally announced, and will instead exit the show on Friday, May 13. The change gives producers time to find his replacement, before Kelly Ripa’s contract comes up in ’17. The news follows Ripa’s return to Live this morning, following last week’s dust-up in which she went MIA after being informed Strahan was heading to Good Morning America, less than half an hour before it was reported in the press.
“After meeting with the producers of both Live and Good Morning America, and after speaking with Kelly and Michael, we have decided on a plan that best advantages both shows for the future,” a show spokesperson said in a statement. “To that end, Michael’s last day on Live will be on Friday, May 13, which not only gives the show the chance to have a nice send-off for him during the May book, but to also immediately begin the on-air search for a new co-host. This plan also allows GMA to start integrating Michael into the show more often this summer before his full-time start in September.”
The change of plans also gives Live producers, and parent company Disney-ABC, a path to get a new co-host on the air sooner, before Ripa’s contract comes up up in ’17.
This morning, Disney-ABC seemed to own its screw-up, giving Ripa her moment to speak live to viewers after receiving apologies from company execs for the way in which she was informed of its plans for Strahan.
“What transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary, in the sense that it started a much greater conversation, about communication, and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace,” Ripa said in making her return this morning, adding, “Apologies have been made, and the best thing to come out of all of this is that our parent company has assured me that Live is a priority.” This may, or may not, put the kibosh on reports the Strahan hire was Step 1 of ABC News’ getting the timeslot to expand GMA.
After the broadcast, the show’s subsequent statement about the change in Strahan’s exit plan fueled talks of it safeguarding against a scenario in which producers would have to replace both hosts in quick order. It’s expected to take months to find Ripa’s new co-host, and host-search has been a ratings magnet for Live in the past.
The change of plans, not coincidentally, also gives GMA more ammo as NBC’s rival Today show takes advantage of that network’s Summer Olympics broadcasts. This morning, NBC announced Today hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, as well as Meredith Vieira, will host coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, on Friday, August 5, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.